A tale of two restaurants

Dinning out should be pleasure. It’s an opportunity to enjoy food without having to think about what might go into it, labour over preparations, or worry about washing up. I intended to eat out twice last week and the experiences couldn’t have been more different.

Experience 1 – the Saracen’s Head Hotel, Dunmow
On Thursday I decided it would be nice to eat dinner out. The weather was warm. The forecast for the next day was rain. I thought it might be the last night of summer.

I choose the Saracen’s Head Hotel on Dunmow High Street. I‘ve eaten there on several occasions in the last year and always found them very accommodating. The chef made me a fantastic five mushroom risotto on Easter Sunday which I still recall with delight.

However on this occasion things did not go so well. Having ordered a drink I began to size up the menu for things that could by alteration or omission be made vegan. The mediterrrian platter with roast vegetables, hummus, olives, bread and halloumi seemed like an option (minus the halloumi). There was also a rather delivious sounding vegetable curry. When the waiter arrived I explained that I was a vegan and asked if he could find out if the curry contained any animal products.

A few minutes later another member of staff appeared . She told me that she had spoken to the chef and that everything contained eggs or dairy. The only thing they could offer me was a bowl of dry leaves. Or nothing.

I considered asking if they could manage an oil and vinegar dressing to go with the dry leaves. Or if the roast vegetables were cooked in oil. Or what animal products the hummus contained.

Instead I decided to take the ‘nothing’ option and eat at home. I began to finish drink. Before I could leave the staff member returned to reiterate that they had nothing I could eat, adding that I should notify them in advance in future.

Experience 2 – Giraffe, Chelmsford

Sunday evening I’d arranged to have dinner with some of my fellow burlesque enthusiasts, and those who taken part in the Change your life in 20 weeks project. We decided to eat at Giraffe simply because someone had some vouchers.

I was a little late arriving but my fellow dinners had already mentioned my vegan lifestyle to the waiter. He was extremely happy to go through the menu with me and suggest which dishes could be altered. He was also very helpful when other in our party wanted alterations to dishes.
I enjoyed a Falafel burger, followed by a sorbet sundae (yes – a vegan desert) and a soy cappuccino.

The staff were excellent. Cheerful, accommodating and good humoured.

The combination of good food, lovely staff, and delightful company made for a really good meal. Our party left Giraffe feeling relaxed, well feed and ready for the week ahead. I feel quite enthusiastic about returning to Giraffe in the near future.

Wishing you all things green,

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